[games_access] Important Question: What is our meta aim?

Ian Hamilton i_h at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 6 09:04:21 EST 2015

It depends on the scale of organisation, individuals and indies are far more likely to  be interested without having to have the business case laid out for them, sometimes just prevalence data is enough, or sometimes because it's the right thing to do, sometimes because they don't like the idea of their creative vision reaching less people, etc. 
And even in corporate land although business case is often a requirement it also isn't enough on its own, I've seen several examples of management being fully bought in and accessibility still failing, either because the people tasked with implementing it didn't have the knowledge or interest needed (even rigid publisher accessibility requirements being routinely flouted because the developers didn't understand the point of it), or because the manager was a lone champion, so as soon as they left it crumbled.  
When I've seen lasting cultural change it has been due to sustained pressure from multiple directions; top-down from management, bottom-up from designers and developers, and also continual external pressure from customers. 
All of that aside, I do completely agree about how important it is, particularly once you get into exec / management / publisher territory. And it's something that separates gaming from other industries too, there aren't really other industries where it's so easy to gather real data and form the business cases.
I've been working on getting decent data gathered and shared, there are a few nice examples now that I regularly talk about in conference talks etc. but they're all from indie-land, what we really need is some data gathered and made public from a big name AAA... if, for example, Destiny was to publish data on how many of their players played with subtitles turned on, I doubt you'd see many games ever released without subtitles afterwards (esp. given the CNET survey on it, which came out at 79% of gamers playing with subs turned on).
Sometimes the data can be nailed down to a specific group, such as tracking VoiceOver usage (really easy to do, with one single line of code), as VO is used almost exclusively by people who are legally blind. So for example 13% of MUDRammer's players being blind Vs the couple of days taken to make the game VO accessible, or the two weeks spent making Solara blind-accessible resulting in 1% of their players being blind (in line with demographics), but those 1% being by far the most loyal and highest spenders on IAPs.
Sometimes it can't be nailed down to disability, like the subtitles example, where people would be turning them on for all kinds of reasons. I don't think that's really an issue though, because if you can demonstrate that a particular feature has a good return on investment, then in business terms it's worth including, regardless of who the audience is.

Out of all of the many different angles there are to pursue it's the business case one that most excites me, because of what I mentioned earlier about data being hard to come by in other industries. So hard business case data from games will be used as an example by those other industries. /
I've seen similar happen with data from DVD sales (with subs Vs without subs) being used as a business case example for web accessibility despite really how unrelated it is, so it's not hard to picture, for example, that Destiny example above being used as an example of business case for subtitles in VOD set top boxes.
Accessibility ratings is something that conversation keeps coming back to. It's too broad a field to cover everything individually, and the other end of the spectrum, a windows store style 'accessible' tickbox doesn't work either, not even for apps let alone games.
Personally I like Steam and IndieCity's approaches.. Steam allowing filtering of listings by accessibility feature (although just for captions at the moment), and IndieCity just picking a few of the most commonly needed considerations to flag up, such as whether a game is colourblind friendly, has remappable controls, or has subtitles. 
Combining the two things would be great, so developers able to tick a few boxes for which common things apply to them, and then also some free optional text to mention any additional considerations.
If, for example, iTunes or Steam was to include something that like, it would make an astronomical difference, not just for the gamers who need the features but also for developers, being able to get an extra bit of discoverability in crowded marketplaces.

From: KSleep at microsoft.com
To: games_access at igda.org
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2015 11:08:18 +0000
Subject: [games_access]  Important Question: What is our meta aim?

In my experience, if you want to influence change on a corporate-cultural level and get people thinking and building games, in this case, with accessibility firmly in mind, upfront and early in the design process, by far the most efficient
 and long-term impactful way to do it is to focus on money and build a compelling business case for companies to care about tapping into all those un-enfranchised people out there.
It’s a question of quantifying cost vs. potential benefits.  Money is the language CEOs speak and my background of having worked extensively in both convinces me that it’s the leadership teams of the big publishing houses and development
 studios that invariably set the company vision and the tone as regards the inclusiveness and accessibility of their products.
Nail the business case before anything else and the development teams will fall into line – resulting in a trickle-down effect through the first and third-party studios.
Given the small and increasingly homogenous nature of the industry there are probably only a dozen or so people we need to focus on influencing, and this could (and is) probably best achieved via a small summit where we pitch our case,
 state our desired outcomes and seek long-term buy-in.
So, to summarise –
Build a compelling business case
Approach leaders and arrange a summit
State desired outcomes and seek buy-in
Short-to-medium term, that would be my approach.  Longer-term goals should be centred on formalising a commitment to accessibility throughout industry via universal ‘Accessibility Ratings’ on all games in the same way we age-rate titles
 before release to market.
Kiernan Sleep | EMEA Test Lead | GTE Europe

Microsoft Limited (company number 01624297), a company registered in England and Wales whose registered office is at Microsoft
 Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1WG

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